Rubber Duckie

Album: The Sesame Street Book and Record (1970)
Charted: 16
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • This, of all songs, is a litmus test of your humanity. Play it for the meanest, stingiest, most sour old troll you can find, and it has to at least get a smile out of him or else he's made out of wood.

    The singer giving life to Ernie's voice is Jim Henson, creator of the TV shows Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, amongst many other honors. Along with staying hilariously in character, Henson demonstrates the best use of a squeaky toy sound effect as a musical element. "Rubber Duckie" is a bathtime favorite rivaled only by Bobby Darin's "Splish Splash."
  • The song debuted on February 25, 1970 when Ernie sang it on a Season 1 episode of Sesame Street. The segment was so popular that the song was issued as a single with the show's theme song as the flip side. In September, it peaked at #16 on the Hot 100, and on November 16, it once again appeared on Sesame Street, this time in a Season 2 segment again with Ernie performing the song.

    "Rubber Duckie" has since appeared in many forms on a variety of Sesame Street compilations.
  • This song was written by Jeffrey Moss, who was the head writer on Sesame Street. He also had a role in the performance, squeezing the duck to produce the squeak (an oft-repeated story is that Moss used the same duck in every recording, as no other duck had that same sound). Moss died of cancer in 1998 at age 56.
  • Rubber ducks were around since at least the 1940s, but they had a popular resurgence thanks to "Rubber Duckie." Early versions came in different shapes, sizes and colors, but Ernie's small yellow duck became the standard. For parents, the toy could provide some relief at the dreaded bathtime (many families had to share bathwater, making it even less appealing to kids who were late in line). It was inexpensive, durable, and could float - really the perfect bath toy.

    Rubber ducks were later used for races where they would be dumped in a river, with the owner of the first duck to cross a finish line receiving a prize. There are often charity benefits where participants donate for each duck entered.
  • "Rubber Duckie" appears on the soundtrack to the 1990 film Three Men and a Little Lady. It was also covered by Little Richard on the Sesame Street album Splish Splash: Bath Time Fun, and by Jane Krakowski (of Ally McBeal fame) on her 2010 solo album The Laziest Gal in Town.

    Since we don't get a chance to bring this up every day, there's a Muppet Wiki. It's the only place you can go on the web to learn facts like how Miss Piggy was created as an homage to the singer Peggy Lee, as told by her designer, Bonnie Erickson. She was even called "Miss Piggy Lee" at first, and is referred to by that handle in episode #106 of The Muppet Show.
  • Starting in 1993, puppeteer Steve Whitmire has performed Ernie in filmed versions. So that's him (still Henson singing) in any video version you encounter from 1993 onward. There were also different versions shown at different times, sometimes without a background.
  • When we went to the basement cage under the stairs to visit our resident Dr. Demento expert, he swore that this most novel of novelty songs was part of the Dr. Demento canon. However, we can't find where it was ever released on a Dr. Demento collection album. For what it's worth, it is available on the Dr. Demento website on the 1970s page, so we'll concede that our expert is probably not crazy.
  • This wasn't the only time Jim Henson charted. He did it again in 1979, with the song "Rainbow Connection" (from The Muppet Movie), this time voiced by Henson as Kermit the Frog, charting at #25 on the US Hot 100.
  • The song was especially popular in cities, which is where most Sesame Street viewers lived. In many big cities, the song made the Top 10 on their local airplay charts.
  • Evanescence lead singer Amy Lee recorded this song for her 2016 children's album Dream Too Much.
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